I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

Sunday, June 20, 2010

DPS probe into Surprise police chief . WTF?

I'm not clear why this is a DPS investigation, instead of the council just firing the guy...Cops may do a lot of criminal things, but bad management or damaging employee morale itself hasn't been criminalized yet. Nor has fascism - otherwise half the legislature would be under indictment.

Anyway, something more than what we're hearing must have been alleged for DPS to be involved in evaluating Hughes' performance. Either that, or someone is really wasting resources to cover their a@$.

Still, things have deteriorated so badly that anyone in that position who really cared about the community should step down, not drag this out or retaliate. This isn't going to be mediated or go away - too many people feel too strongly about his leadership.

Sorry, Hughes.


DPS begins questioning officers in Surprise police chief probe
Arizona Department of Public Safety investigators have started questioning Surprise officers more than two months after a vote of no confidence in Police Chief Dan Hughes.

Acting City Manager Mark Coronado asked the state agency to investigate allegations raised in a letter written by the Surprise Police Employees Association. About 78 percent of police staff supported the letter, which called for Hughes' firing.

Among concerns expressed in the association's letter were Hughes' apparent lack of awareness about employee issues, inconsistent discipline meted out to officers and morale problems.

The chief, who said he could not comment when reached by a reporter early Wednesday, had defended his record in a statement released when the police association's letter became public. Hughes wrote that crime had fallen during his 8 1/2 years in Surprise and that the association's tactics promote "divisiveness and turmoil."

Detectives from DPS' Criminal Investigations Division started interviewing officers who filed complaints against Hughes in recent weeks, said Jesse Galaz, board member of the police association.

Galaz, who sat in on some interviews as a union representative, said the DPS detectives reviewed Surprise police policies before contacting officers whose complaints were within the scope of their review.

The detectives told Galaz to brace for a "long, drawn-out process," the Surprise officer said.

In a Wednesday interview, DPS Director Robert Halliday said it would be difficult to assess the length of the investigation.

He said the review of the Surprise Police Department would be thorough and fair. Halliday and a DPS spokesman would not elaborate. A Surprise spokesman sent an e-mail to The Arizona Republic on Monday after a reporter contacted Coronado and Human Resources Director April Reynolds.

"We will not have any comment on the DPS review process while the process is under way," spokesman Ken Lynch wrote.

As the review of the Police Department gets under way, the impact on the agency's service to the public is unclear.

Officer Mike Gregory described the atmosphere at the Police Department during the public comment portion of last week's City Council meeting.

"It's a sad, sad day when officers feel safer contacting criminals, drug users, murderers, gang members on the streets in the city of Surprise than they do inside the four walls of their own building," he said.

Galaz said he supports Gregory's description.

"I think a lot of people feel the same way," Galaz said. "Officers complain about the stress they start to feel. They start to feel sick to their stomachs. They already have enough on their plates being police officers and then you throw all the other stresses that are coming along with this process, and it's hard for anyone to digest."

Three Surprise law-enforcement employees, who asked for anonymity, said some officers spend as little time at the station as possible or avoid contact with supervisors. They said young officers seem confused about how to react to the situation. Many of the 122 officers who supported the vote of no confidence "feel like they're under a microscope" and worry about retaliation, a veteran officer said.

Officer Rich Rodriguez said he has done all he can to avoid the turmoil. He said he was one of five police employees who voted in favor of the chief.

"The PD has been good to me, so I don't have complaints like everyone else," the five-year officer said. "I'm not in that realm of irritation because I don't think it's that bad."

But Rodriguez, like others who spoke to The Republic, said he is eager for a resolution.

A swift decision could be crucial to the future of the Police Department, said Steve Albrecht, a retired San Diego police sergeant who now works as a human-resources consultant.

A thorough, fair review is important but one that carries on for months could ensure long-term division, he said.

"The longer things go, the more people choose sides," Albrecht said. "That's not good for anybody."

Related tensions could also begin to affect policing in Surprise, said Ted Hunt, a police consultant who spent more than 30 years as a Los Angeles officer.

Though Surprise officers said they don't believe community service has been negatively affected in the wake of the no-confidence vote, Hunt said officers and administrators may be more likely to scale back proactive efforts to fight crime and make mistakes on the job due to stress.